Curtis Institute of Music

Does a song, or even a symphony, trigger memories of important moments and milestones in your life? For violinist Hillary Hahn, a little-known, 19th-century concerto is an important part of her history and her current repertoire.

“Opera’s where my heart is,” said Rene Orth this January, and in June, Opera Philadelphia announced her appointment as its new Composer in Residence. She will be the sixth composer to hold that position and was chosen from a field of applicants from across the country.

When Samuel Barber’s violin concerto was rejected by the man for whom it was commissioned in 1939, he turned to his alma mater — The Curtis Institute of Music — where the concerto was performed to acclaim, leading to its official premiere with The Philadelphia Orchestra. WRTI’s Susan Lewis talked to a panel of artists about Barber’s legacy, and the pleasures and perils of creating and performing new work in Philadelphia.

 A Japanese violinist who garnered international fame in 1990 as the youngest winner of the Tchaikovsky Competition continues her high-profile solo career while also taking music to places and people in need. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more.

The Curtis Institute of Music is in the midst of an all-school, all-year project for 2015/2016 devoted to avant-garde music that Philadelphians often avoided when it was new 50 years ago - works by the so-called "Darmstadt" composers. The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns asks just how well the music has aged.

This week in July of 1940, one of the most loved and most sung choral works - written by a composer living in Philadelphia - was premiered in western Massachusetts. But Randall Thompson’s Alleluia is almost the opposite of an “alleluia.”

From Randall Thompson, the composer who was then the Director of the Curtis Institute of Music, conductor Serge Koussevitzky requested a loud and festive choral fanfare. It was to open the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood.

American violinist Benjamin Beilman is making his mark in recitals and as soloist in orchestral programs, both at home and abroad. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, the 25-year-old Curtis graduate enthusiastically embraces a wide range of music. Beilman performs Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto with The Philadelphia Orchestra on WRTI, Sunday, May 10 at 1 pm.

Radio script:

His own piano teacher told him he wouldn’t get into Curtis, but that he ought to audition anyway, for the experience. So, two weeks after traveling from Pittsburgh with his mother to play for Rudolf Serkin and Eleanor Sokoloff, Charles Abramovic received a letter from the Curtis Institute of Music. He was accepted.

The Guarneri Quartet looks down at them from a frame hanging on the wall. There’s that and an espresso machine in the practice room of the Aizuri Quartet, the String Quartet-in-Residence at the Curtis Institute of Music. The Guarneri once taught there, but the women of Aizuri laughingly confess that sometimes they’re not sure which item in the room—the picture or the coffee-maker—is more important.

Candace diCarlo

The door closed behind Jennifer Higdon. She was in the office of her college conducting professor, Robert Spano, seeking advice about what to do. She had just heard back from the Curtis Institute of Music - they had accepted her application for graduate studies, but so had other music schools. She needed guidance.  "I'm not letting you out of here," Spano said, until she agreed to accept the spot from Curtis.